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Concerned residents confront council over curbside recycling

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 06:00 am

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Residents concerned over a “lack of communication” with the City of Airdrie’s Curbside Recycling program, approved by council in December 2013, took to question period at the Feb. 18 council meeting to plea with council to consider “opting” out of the program.

About 200 residents are concerned, explained Heather Spearman Oberly the groups spokesperson, over the “lack of information” that was provided to residents and the impact the program will have on those residents that are less mobile.

“I’d like to speak about the large concentration of citizens who are opposed to moving forward on curbside recycling,” Oberly said.

Oberly said, blue bins would have been a better option for residents, and they would divert the amount of waste that heads to the landfill.

“Diverting weight (of garbage) was not a residential mandate,” she said. “You need to ask ‘what do the people really want’”

The decision to approve the now-controversial curbside recycling program came after a five month pilot project, which ran from May 1, 2013 to Sept. 1 2013; budgeting in the 2012 budget; public notices and information sessions; and was ultimately approved on Dec. 16 2013.

“I did an informal poll of about 150 residents,” Mayor Peter Brown said.

“I didn’t find one person that was in opposition to it. The media has reported on it, editorials were written, it was talked about in the community strategic plan, people need to take an active role (in sourcing the information).”

Brown said that the program would reduce organic waste (into the landfill) by 50 per cent, and said he had conducted a test on his family’s useage and the program reduced his waste by 40 per cent.

Kolson, who was originally opposed to the program when it was first released, and now supports the program told Oberly that the blue bin service would result in three times the cost of the curbside-recycling program.

Currently, the green bin or compost bins will cost all residents $3.26 per month.

Oberly asked whether there would be allowances made for those who were physically unable to move the green bins themselves.

“Currently, in the waste bylaw charges (for services) are applied to all households without an option to opt out,” Kathleen Muretti, manager of Waste and Recycling with the City of Airdrie said.

“We are going to follow the lead of other communities with such issues as immobility.”

The subject of a lack of communication rose again as Bill Forest, a representative of the Woodside Senior’s Association, questioned council’s motives when “pushing through the legislation.”

“We had a meeting this morning and asked everyone if they knew about the program and not one did,” Forest said.

“Council passed the legislation before Christmas when everyone was busy, and then the City had already spent $850,000 on garbage bins, so nothing could be done.”

Brown took exception to the comment and said “there was no intent to throw a blanket over the residents,” when it came to approving the program.

While council took a bit of heat from those in the gallery, Danica McDonald, a high school student in Airdrie and winner of Mayor for a Day 2013 based on her application on curbside recycling program, spoke to the importance of the program from a “teenage perspective.”

“I’ve outlined a list of pros and cons for composting and there aren’t too many cons,” she said.

“Composting kills weed seeds, reuses the soil and makes the environment better for us while using less fertilizers.

“The cons are (physically) taking the bins out. Composting will save us in the long-term over the next 10 to 15 years.”

Council took questions on the program during question period, but no change in direction was approved. The curbside recycling program is still in-effect for 2014 beginning April 1.

Council urged residents to attend upcoming public information sessions on Feb. 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Bert Church Theatre, March 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at City Hall, and April 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Bert Church Theatre.


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